Planning permission not sought for Aberdeen Christmas Village

By Steven Duff
BBC Scotland reporter

Image source, Aberdeen Inspired

Planning permission has not been sought for Aberdeen's Christmas Village which gets under way on Thursday, BBC Scotland has learned.

A temporary change of use of land is allowed as long as it does not exceed 28 days.

However this year's event - which includes a market, fun fair and ice rink - will last for 40 days.

It is up to the planning authority to decide whether to take enforcement action.

The council said there were no public safety concerns as proper building warrants and inspections were taking place.

Similar events on Broad Street and Union Terrace stretching back to 2015 also did not have necessary permissions.

No enforcement action has ever been taken.

It comes after Edinburgh's Christmas market opened after council inspectors were satisfied last-minute snags had been fixed.

A building warrant had already been granted but the licence was only given following final checks.

The Aberdeen event was first held in 2015 in Union Terrace, but moved to Broad Street in 2017, and attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

This year's event will run until 31 December.

Image caption,
The Christmas village began in 2015 in Union Terrace

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: "Building standards officers issue a Section 89 Raised Structure permit and provide feedback to colleagues in licensing with regards to the public entertainment and alcohol licences applications.

"Building standards inspections have been scheduled for yesterday and today to finalise these aspects.

"The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992 allows for the change of use of land for a period of 28 days in any calendar year without the requirement to apply for planning permission under permitted development. Any structures placed on that land in connection with permitted use would not require consent during that time period."

The spokeswoman explained: "In the absence of planning permission for a development that requires planning permission, it is for the planning authority to decide whether it is expedient to take enforcement action and it is the planning committee that authorises enforcement action.

"In coming to this judgement, the planning authority takes into account material planning considerations such as traffic and pedestrian safety, amenity, impact on listed buildings, conservation, and design, along with other considerations."

Aberdeen Inspired, which runs the event with the council, said it took advice from partners in the planning of every Christmas event.

The organisation said "The duration of the Aberdeen Christmas Village, including the build and derigging, is covered through a range of licensing including a Raised Structure Permit, Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO), public entertainment license, market operators license and several occasional licenses.

"We have worked closely with Aberdeen City Council to ensure all necessary licensing and consents are in place and have met their requirements in full."

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